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Anthony Albanese and Scott Morrison

View from The Hill: Labor widens leads in Newspoll and Ipsos, as pre-polling starts

The opposition has increased its winning margins in both Newspoll and the Australian Financial Review’s Ipsos poll, as Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese clashed in a shouty, fractious debate on Sunday night.

With pre-polling opening on Monday, Newspoll has Labor leading 54-46% on a two-party preferred basis, compared to 53-47% a week before.

Albanese has narrowed the gap as better PM – his rating has risen 3 points and Morrison has fallen a point. Morrison leads by a whisker – 44-42%.

In the Ipsos poll, Labor leads the government 57-43%, compared to 55-45% a fortnight ago, and Albanese is ahead of Morrison as preferred PM 41-36%, a 3-point widening of the gap.

The poll results follow last Tuesday’s interest rate rise and Albanese’s stumble on Thursday when he was asked to name the six points of his NDIS policy.

The interest rate increase further elevated cost of living in the campaign, and this appears to have helped Labor, despite some hopes by the Coalition that having economic issues front and centre might be to its advantage.

The Nine debate – which will be followed on Wednesday by the final leaders’ debate, on the Seven network – was scored by more than 30,000 viewers and listeners as a draw.

The two clashed heatedly at several points especially after Albanese said, “When I was a minister, we put US marines into Darwin. When you have been a minister we have had the Port of Darwin sold to a company connected with the Chinese Communist Party”. This brought a strong reaction from Morrison.

With wide ranging questions from a journalist panel and each other, Albanese dodged when asked why he would not investigate allegations the late senator Kimberley Kitching had been bullied, and again refused to admit he’d been caught out over his NDIS policy.

Pressed on why people questioned his honesty Morrison could only reply in terms of having disagreements with people from time to time.

Neither leader fell into any major hole. The level of assertiveness and aggression was notable, with the moderator, Sarah Abo, at times trying in vain to stop them talking over each other and her.

In Newspoll, conducted Wednesday to Saturday of 1523 voters and published in Monday’s Australian, Labor is up a point to 39% on primary votes; the Coalition is on 35%, down a point. The Greens are stable on 11%.

Morrison’s satisfaction rating has dipped 3 points to 41%; dissatisfaction with him has increased by 4 points to 55%. His net satisfaction is minus 14.

Albanese’s satisfaction increased a point to 41% and his dissatisfaction rating fell by 2 points to 47%. He has a net rating of minus 6.

In the Ipsos poll, the Coalition’s primary vote is down 3 points to 29%; Labor’s primary vote is 35% (up a point). The Greens are steady on 12%.

This gives Labor a 52-40% two-party lead with 8% undecided.

Taking out the undecideds puts Labor on 38% primary vote, with the Coalition on 32%. Labor then leads 57-43% in two party terms, compared to 55-45% a fortnight ago.

Morrison’s approval declined 2 points to 32%; his disapproval increased 3 points to 51%, for a net figure of minus 19. There was only minor change in Albanese’s approval figures. His approval was 30%; his disapproval 36%, and his net rating minus 6.

The poll of 2311 was done Wednesday to Saturday.

Morrison sparked fresh controversy at the weekend when he said a re-elected Coalition would deal with religious discrimination legislation and protection for gay students “sequentially” rather than at the same time. He would not be pinned down on a timeline but given an inquiry by the Australian Law Reform Commission it could be a year or more between the two.

Morrison said Australians of faith were being discriminated against all the time. He said there was no evidence religious schools sought to expel students because they were gay.

Several Liberal backbenchers, including Trent Zimmerman and Katie Allen, who crossed the floor earlier this year to protect trans students, which led to Morrison abandoning the religious discrimination bill, indicated their position had not changed.

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